Set against the imagined backdrop of Israel’s portion of the Mediterranean Sea, Amos Pinhasi opened this year’s Between the Seas Festival last Monday evening with “Mediterraneo.” The piece, combining dance and performance art, was meant to delve into the dancer’s own memories of his childhood in Israel.
Pinhasi danced alone on the small stage of the Wild Project in the East Village. “Mediterraneo” was billed as “woven like a stream of consciousness,” and though it traversed the cultural boundaries of this famous sea, it lacked a sense of flow.
Pinhasi is known for his use of props, using mundane objects for what they are in an obvious sense (a beach blanket and straw hat were used in conjunction with swimming-like movements to evoke a day at the beach) and also imbuing them with meaning beyond the obvious (a black fabric throw was draped over his head and hunched upper body much like a burqa, transforming him into a caricature of an Arab woman).
In past works he has danced with food like rice and potatoes. Here in “Mediterraneo,” he swayed with a watermelon before stabbing it with a knife and taking a bite from a triangular piece.
Throughout the five sections of the performance, Pinhasi also incorporated a conch shell, a toy sailboat and two small cloth flags attached to wooden sticks, an Israeli flag and a Palestinian flag. He sought to explore what he perceives as the absurdity of “a militaristic upbringing in the land of milk and honey.” With stiff movements, he marched around the stage, one flag in each hand.
The piece was set to music from Italian and French film as well as Chopin, Mozart and Musicians of The Nile.
Born in 1957 in Michmoret, on the Mediterranean Sea, Pinhasi has lived in New York for the past thirty years.
“Mediterraneo” was staged as part of the Between the Seas Festival, organized by Aktina Stathaki. Now in its third year, it presents performing arts from the disparate cultures along the Mediterranean Sea. This weekend (July 27th to 28th) the Festival will stage the North American premiere of “Eyes,” a play directed by Norman Issa based on the poetry of Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, performed by the Arab-Hebrew Theater of Jaffa in both Arabic and Hebrew.